New Adoption!

Abandoned behind the antique store…this will be a fun quick rehab project. Beautiful wood back, but I will paint the whole thing. What color?

Sean Wells via iPhone


February 15, 2011 at 11:32 pm 1 comment

Cheap Designer Accent

$10 retro starburst mirror at Family Dollar! Thought this would be cool in a grouping on a designer color wall.

Sean Wells via iPhone

February 7, 2011 at 11:37 pm 4 comments

butterflies in my kitchen

Things have settled down since the holiday season and I’m ready to tackle projects that have been on hold since October. One project that has been on my “to do” list is to paint my kitchen counter stools to create a visually cohesive look within the space. While my boys were in school I decided to haul the stools outside to give them a good sand down with my nifty Black & Decker mouse.

Committing to a paint color can be difficult at times but for this project I knew that I wanted my counter stools to match the gray countertops & black appliances in my kitchen. I applied several layers of Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Gray Primer to the legs and allowed an hour to dry. When the primer had adequate time to dry I applied two layers of Rustoleum’s Dark Gray Gloss Ultra Cover and let it sit over night.

The following morning Mr. Polo gave me the “okay” to proceed to the next step.

Several layers of black Behr interior satin enamel “oops paint”, purchased from Home Depot, were applied on the seat edges.

Using a dinner plate as a template I traced an outline onto the backside of my favorite decorative paper and carefully trimmed along my pencil line. Using a foam brush, I applied a layer of Mod Podge to the stool and the backside of my paper and carefully positioned the paper onto the seat. Working from the center I used the edge of an expired Starbuck's gift card to eliminate any air bubbles.

Add three layers of Minwax ploycrylic protective finish to the counter stool, sanding lightly between each coat, and now l have three beautiful stools that match my kitchen perfectly.


February 5, 2011 at 8:47 pm 2 comments

Video: Skull Stroller

Skull StrollerI finally got around to editing my first video project for Qprojects.  I plan to try to do more videos in the future, especially after we get back into the warmer weather.

In this video, I convert an old bike stroller into a Skull.  Why in the world would I do that?  To involve my family in the joyful atmosphere of celebration for the annual Dia de los Muertos Marigold Parade in Albuquerque, NM!  I use a fleece base and smoke-colored vinyl for the cover.  The cover is clipped to the existing fabric canopy.  I make tissue paper flower accents.  It was a fun project and I introduce a bit of the history of Dia de los Muertos in the video.  And, of course, my kids loved it!  Enjoy!

December 31, 2010 at 1:43 am 1 comment

Mason Jar Faralitos

Every year the holiday marketing machine gears up earlier and earlier.  I try to fight it, but I love the holidays, so I always have one eye on the greenery.  I just got this newsletter from HGTV and flipped through their 20 holiday make-it craft photos.  I really liked this one image.

mason jar candles

Click on the photo above to see the original HGTV slideshow.

It is simple and adaptable. Unfortunately, there are no directions, so I’m not sure what they used for the crystal base. It looks like it may be something like seasalt, but that would make this about $30 in candles. I will try to identify the material.  But, the reason I liked it was that it is reminiscent of the faralitos/luminarias that we New Mexicans light our pathways with on Christmas eve.



I used authentic luminarias as decoration for our wedding. They were warm (both literally and figuratively) and romatic.

A faralito or luminaria (depending on what region you are in) is a candle placed in a brown paper bag filled with sand and lit on Christmas Eve. It is meant to symbolize a welcoming casa to guide the Virgin Mary as she searches for an open Inn. It makes the city magical. But, convenience has led to plastic & electrical imitations. They are still beautiful, but lose some of tradition and richness of the ritual. But, the traditional bags can be safe hazards and can blow over in the wind. These would be a nice modern and stylish compromise.

November 10, 2010 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

Painting the Dragon on the Vanity

Here is the first how-to on the vanity.

1.  I have painted the vanity with a Krylon acrylic paint in Banner Red.  The surface is clean.

preparing work area2.  I gathered inspiring images from Google.  Search for keywords that interest you and print out your favorites.  Print out for reference.  If you’re not comfortable free-handing, you can print out images  full scale so that they print on several pieces of paper and seam them together with tape.  Rub chalk on the back and trace from the front onto your surface to transpose chalk guidelines to your tabletop.  I took my favorite elements from several images to get a Dragon and Phoenix I liked.  Have your image respond to the edges of the table top.  My beasts curl around the curves of the desk.

image showing colored pencil outline

3.  I’m using a basic black acrylic paint found at any craft/art supply store.  You can use the 99¢ bottles of crafting acrylic or the thicker tubes.  The crafting acrylic should get a less-dimensional image.  The tube paint will leave raised ridges and brush strokes.  I liked this effect since it really told you the desk was hand-painted.  Pour a little paint into a small bowl.  Keep adding water and mix paint into water until you get an inky look.  Leave some paint unmixed in the bowl so you can vary the viscosity of your paint.

image applying paint4.  Use a long narrow brush.  I like the stiffer bristles of an acrylic brush so that I can vary the width of the stroke by adjusting the pressure on the brush.  I wanted to imitate the brush-stroke kanji of the collage paper.

image of progressive painting5.  Continue filling out the details.  Begin to layer in the thicker paint on the meatier areas if you want to give the paint some dimension.  Be aware that you will be working over a large area, so you may want to start on the area furthest from your hand (I obviously didn’t do this).  I don’t rest my hand on the surface, so it’s not as big an issue for me.  But, you don’t want to accidently run your hand through the wet paint.

image showing longer brush strokes6.  Wait until you’ve developed your comfort with the brush strokes before you tackle the longer major outlines.  I definitely developed a technique and style as I went along.  Don’t be too afraid to make mistakes.  Leave a moist rag around to quickly wipe up any strokes you don’t like.  Dry the area thoroughly before repainting to avoid bleeding or feathering.  The acrylic tends to sit on the surface until it’s sealed, so you can even wash off dried paint for the most part.

more progress painting7.  Invest in textures and details.  I really liked the feathered texture on the scales.  It took a while, but really took it from a craft project to a work of art.  That being said, I also left some areas very loose and interpretive.

image of finished painted tabletop

8.  Shot of the completed top.  The acrylic dries extremely fast.  Once the thickest parts have dried, take it outside and put  several clear coats of acrylic spray paint.  Do not use lacquer as it can cause wrinkling.  If you plan to collage, you’ll apply more coats of sealer on top of the collage work and will probably have to recoat the top as well to prevent the dusty look of overspray.

This process can be applied to any theme you choose!



November 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm 1 comment

Red Chinese Phoenix Vanity

Vanity after closeupOK, I’m just too sleepy to come up with a pun-y title this morning.  If anyone wants to comment with a suggested title, I’m all ears.

This article is a continuation of the article “who says vanity is a bad thing?!

Well, here it is, the big reveal!  This is the $3 yard sale vanity I adopted months ago.  I actually finished the rehab a few weeks ago, but I have such an extensive set of after photos, I’ve been putting off posting.  I plan to include a series of articles on the how-to on this one.  But for now, just the fun stuff.

I prepped the vanity by cleaning, sanding and removing all the hardware.  I didn’t bother taping off the mirror.  I just thought I would scrape off the spray paint with a razor blade when I was done, but that was harder than I thought.  The spray paint really set and adhered much better to the glass of the mirror than I would have imagined.  If I did it over again. I would insert several pieces of plastic paper between the mirror and the frame and tape them down for a clean and easy finish. I sprayed on a white acrylic primer.  It was so pretty in that stage, I wish I took a picture.  Red paint is particularly sheer, so it was important to start with a white primer to insure a bright cherry red finish.  I used Krylon Banner Red.  It was very affordable at Walmart.  I think it took 4 bottles, but there were several places where I had to refinish due to bubbling of the finish coat.   I finished with 2 coats of a high gloss lacquer spray paint.  It did bubble in a couple of places, but I think it was due to the fact that I had left it in the sun and was spraying on a hot surface.

vanity detail dragon

vanity detail topOnce the base coat of red was complete, I hand painted the Phoenix and Dragon on the top surface using watered down acrylic paints.  I sketched it out using a light color colored pencil first and printed lots of online images to inspire and create my  own compilation of the icons.  I’ll do a step by step post on that painting in a later post.  This part was so fun.  After the top was complete, I went to the paper store (see article “Papers!“) you recommended to find a red a black paper.  I found a very inexpensive toothy tissue paper with a screened kanji pattern on it that was perfect.  I decoupaged the paper onto the vertical surfaces of the unit.  This step was really fun, too.  It was so fun, I decided to line the drawer for a special surprise inside.

vanity detail decoupage

I took process photos of the decoupage, so I will post those later, too.  I painted the hardware black and hit those with a durable clear coat of glossy spray paint.  I reattached the hardware and she was ready to go!

vanity drawerI converted a country looking stool to use as a seat.  It had a great asian profile.  I’ll post about that separately.

Sadly, I left the vanity outside under my pop-up tent for one day (intending to deliver to the furniture store the following day) and a gust of wind came and knocked the tent over crushing my newly finished vanity.  The mirror is broken and two of the legs are busted.  I kind of feel like the universe does not want anyone to ever use this vanity.  It currently sits in my shed, legless once more.  I plan to replace the two broken legs with legs from the local Habitat for Humanity Restore, a great resource for hardware and some furniture parts.  But, it was a really fun project and at least I got pictures of it before it was mangled.

Vanity Before

$3 is cheap for the cost of beauty.

vanity after

Vanity After

vanity after front

vanity after front view

vanity after detail 1

vanity after detail 1

September 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm 3 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts

receive new posts by email

Join 7 other followers

Recent Posts

NOTE: REFINISHING TIPS appear in a different color text in posts.

Thank you “Better After Blog” for featuring us!

Featured On Better After Blog

Beth's Flickr Photos

Visitors Map

Visitor Counter

Free counters provided by Vendio.